World champions fly in for 1976 Long Beach historic race

Dan Gurney, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham and Denis Hulme were among the legendary drivers taking part in an historic demonstration race to support the 1976 Long Beach Grand Prix

Stirling Moss leans into the Mercedes of Juan Manuel Fangio at 1976 Long Beach Historic race

Moss and Fangio joined the grid at Long Beach

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Highlight of the supporting programme at Long Beach was a “demonstration race” for a variety of selected racing cars of particular historic interest.

Included in the entry was the 21-litre front-engined BRM from Tom Wheatcroft’s Donington Collection, entrusted to the hands of former BRM driver Dan Gurney. In the event Gurney “won” the race and was seen on the winner’s rostrum in company with Fangio, Jack Brabham and Denis Hulme, all of whom came specially to Long Beach for the event.

Mercedes W196 of Juan Manuel Fangio in 1976 Long Beach Historic race

Mercedes supplied Fangio’s W196 direct from Stuttgart

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Undoubted highlight of the race was Fangio’s outing in a 22-litre Mercedes-Benz W196 which had been specially flown over from Stuttgart for the Argentinian to drive. The five times World Champion finished in third place behind Jack Brabham’s Donington Cooper-Climax T51, and other participants included Carroll Shelby’s 42-litre Ferrari Formula One, Maurice Trintignant’s Talbot-Lago owned by Briggs Cunningham, Denis Hulme in a Formula Two Cooper-Climax and Stirling Moss in a Maserati 250F. Sadly Moss’ race ended on the first lap when the car’s cooling
system pressurised and blew out all the water.

Two Bugatti T37s were also present, one driven by Phil Hill and the other by René Dreyfus, the latter passengered by Innes Ireland. Ireland had been nominated to drive a Maserati 250F but mechanical problems in “practice” reduced him to the role of a passenger for the event proper.